On Sunday night I had dinner at Dishoom with my fiancé, my brother and my friend Charlotte.

Dishoom is a “Bombay style café” located in the West End, two minutes away from Leicester Square station. The atmosphere is that of cafés in Bombay in the Sixties (such as Britannia, Leopold and Naaz): brick walls, floor tiles, low bulb lights, faded family portraits on the walls and fans on the ceiling. Opened by Persian immigrants, they were part of the urban life of the city: rich and poor, artists and politicians, would go there to eat and drink.

Anyone, irrespective of religion, caste or creed could wander in and find comfort in the energy of the place (quote by Saloni Shukla, a Bombay filmmaker).

The majority of these cafés has now closed in the modern-day Mumbai. Dishoom draws upon their heritage to create a café that serves Bombay street food and drinks all day.

My first visit to Dishoom was in September, on a Thursday night at the end of the summer. It was unseasonably warm and the London crowds were out and about in the West End. I was in the area with friends for a music gig and I suggested Dishoom for dinner.

A few Indian friends had recommended the restaurant before and I was keen to try it for myself. We arrived around 9pm, but only got a table at 10pm and managed to place an order by 10:30pm. The waiter was impolite, unable to tell us which dishes were vegan or not. He forgot to bring us the bill, then gave us one that was wrong. We had a good meal, but it was a painful experience.

None of my friends had ever experienced bad service at Dishoom, so I knew I had been unlucky. However I was too disappointed to give it another chance.

I wrote a mention on Twitter the next day and I was immediately contacted by the restaurant’s PR. They apologised for the poor service and invited me back for dinner (with the offer of a bottle of Prosecco or a discount on the bill) to make things right.

It took me months to finally come round to it. In the meantime, I met a new friend who absolutely raves about Dishoom: Pooja of A Table for One has written about it on her blog, often eats there and knows their menu by heart. After hearing so many good things about Dishoom from Pooja, I decided to finally go back!

We were greeted with a complimentary glass of Bollybellini: a rose, lychee and raspberry Bellini cocktail.

Sandy was in charge of ordering for the table. Mixing our favourites Indian dishes with Pooja’s recommendations, we started off with: Pau Bhaji, Spicy Lamb Chops, Paneer Tikka and Portobello Mushrooms.

As main, we ordered Chicken Berry Biryani, Chicken Kofta, Cheese Naan and Garlic Naan. To mitigate the heat of all the spices, we drank Lassi: Rose & Cardamon, Mango & Fennel.

For dessert, we had the delicious Kulfi ice-cream in three different flavours: pistachio, mango and malai.

Throughout the dinner waiters checked on us and made sure we were being attended to. On a Sunday evening, the restaurant was busy, but not packed as it was on a Thursday. When we arrived at 20:30, there were some free tables, so we didn’t have to wait at all. The service was impeccable, fast and precise.

I’m incredibly impressed by the efforts they made to make sure I had a good experience and that’s only for having expressed disappointment on Twitter. I didn’t have a food blog last year, there was no danger for them of getting a bad review. And yet, they tried hard and made sure that one customer (out of thousands) was happy. This is great customer service!

So my final verdict is: Dishoom is buzzing all the time, the cocktails are great, the food is spicy and authentic. Yes, it can be very crowded and noisy. Yes, you might have to wait for the table and the food. Will you have a real Bombay experience? Oh, yes!

More photos of our dinner by the talented Charlotte Hu.

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[…] manager at the time and went back a few months later to have a near perfect experience (as reviewed here). My friend Pooja was very persuasive and convinced me to give Dishoom a second chance and I have […]

15/11/2014 12:31

The food isn’t spicy or authentic. It’s bland pre cooked and down right basty

20/04/2012 17:35

Im surprised you liked it – then im sure you know indian food better than I do… I went twice and really wasnt impressed, particularly on our second visit. We had brunch and it was completely tasteless, plus the service very poor. I dont think i’ll give it another go! :(

Maria Cristina
Maria Cristina
20/04/2012 17:20

Really really good review, as usual: nice pictures, effective text! I’m sure Dishoom is in our list, isn’t it?

20/04/2012 16:51

Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled!

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